On this day in 1945, representatives of the Japanese empire boarded the USS Missouri, and in a brief ceremony, signed the articles of surrender that brought to a close World War II.
Roughly 16 million Americans would serve in uniform during the war, about 10% of the population. Four hundred thousand of them would die. A million would be wounded.
On the Axis side, Germany and Japan were devastated, and Italy in scarcely better condition.
Of the Allied powers, France and the British Empire were exhausted. Russia, while triumphant, had suffered casualties that boggle the mind to this day.
Only the United States ended the war with its population and infrastructure intact.
The war had ushered in ever greater horrors, from concentration camps, aerial bombing campaigns and of course, the atom bomb.
And if the war failed to bring universal peace to our planet, it did show a glimpse of what warfare could be in the future. That wars since then have been, by comparison, modest affairs, is , if not a good thing, better than the alternative.
The small armies of Australia and New Zealand, during World War I sent troops to serve with the British Army. Formed into the Australia and New Zealand Army Corps, they quickly became known as ANZACs. Soon their wartime prowess earned them the reputation as the shock troops of the British Empire.
In World War II, both nations again provided key infusions of manpower into the imperial forces, and struggled to fight campaigns alongside the United States in the Pacific to achieve their own strategic goals.
And in virtually every major US campaign since World War II, troops from the antipodean nations have served alongside our soldiers and Marines.
Both Australia, and particularly New Zealand are small countries, with small armies. But both are highly respected for their professionalism, gallantry, and heritage. And so it is appropriate that we take a moment to remember the shared sacrifices of our allied neighbors from the other hemisphere as they celebrate ANAZC Day.
Head over to CDR Salamander’s for some excellent video of these warriors in action throughout the years.